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HealthInfo Canterbury

Overview of normal breasts

breast anatomyYour breasts are made up of different types of tissue. These include lobules (which contain your milk-producing glands), ducts (for moving the milk to your nipple), fatty tissue, connective tissue, blood vessels, lymph vessels, and nerves. Changes can happen in any of these and cause a lump in your breast.

Your breasts can change with the normal hormonal changes of your menstrual cycle. Many women have some discomfort, tenderness, or a feeling of lumpiness in their breasts at some time during their menstrual cycle. It's usually noticeable in the days leading up to their period, then it gets better once their period has started.

For some women, this pain and lumpiness can cause symptoms that continue for many days. Their breasts feel generally lumpy, and possibly heavy and swollen. This is called fibrocystic disease, and happens mostly in women between 30 and 50. While fibrocystic disease is harmless, it sometimes causes worrying lumps that women decide to get checked by their GP.


On the next page: Overview of breast lumps

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by oncoplastic breast and general surgeon, Canterbury DHB. Page created December 2018.


Page reference: 406142

Review key: HIBRL-129242